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Working Parents: Finding After School Programs

Working Parents: Finding After School Programs

So it’s all started…the class assignment, the bus stop location, the note from the new teacher. In a few short weeks, Max will be off to Kindergarten. I thought I was ready for it, but the tears these pieces of mail brought me proved that the first day of school is going to get ugly (for me).  One of the things that’s adding to my worries is that I still don’t know what Max will be doing during the after school hours when I’m still working.

As far as I can tell, I have four options.

Option 1: The after school program at school,  run by the local YMCA.
I’m really familiar with these programs. While I never attended one, I worked at them for many years. I know that the afternoons are full of eating sugary cereal out of white plastic bowls, braiding each other’s hair while the boys play basketball or using dried up, broken art materials. I was a high schooler, interested in cooing over the cute first graders and rolling my eyes at the rowdy third grade boys. It was loud and rowdy and I don’t think it’s the right environment for Max. As a parent, I do see the convenience of having my child in one place, all day long. Also, they are open during the months when Wednesdays are half days (which are all of them except November-February) . And the price isn’t all that bad either.

Option 2: The after school care at a local child care center.
Unfortunately the daycare my younger son attends does not offer after-school care (though they do offer a school’s out program for holidays and vacations which I’ll take advantage of), so like the above option, I’d be picking up at two different places each afternoon. Not a deal breaker since I work from home, but do I really want to acclimate our family to another child care center? Also, the fact that he’d be picked up in a van makes me nervous. Partly because I don’t love the idea of him riding in a car with that many other kids and only one driver, and partly because he has epilepsy and it’s one more place I have to train and leave medication.

Option 3: Hire an after school babysitter.
This is the most ideal option for me…however, we just moved here and I don’t know anyone. The girls across the street might be an option for next year, but so far I’ve only met them once a few days after moving in. I envision someone preparing a snack and doing quiet activities like puzzles or reading, which is how Max unwinds after a long day. Does anyone know a responsible high schooler in the central CT area looking for a job? If so, let me know. The charge is a spunky, bright, charming boy with a megawatt smile.

Option 4: Adjust my work hours so I can be available once he gets off the bus.
This is likely what I’ll do. Based on his indicated bus hours and with the hopes that my husband can pick up some of the morning routine, I hope to start and end my work day a bit earlier than usual. I’m going to see how this goes. If the answer is not well, please see options 1-3.  As an aside, I do realize that him riding the bus is really no different from riding a van to an after-school program. For some reason though, I’m willing to try it.

As for those half day Wednesdays if we go this route, your guess is as good as mine. Hopefully I’ll figure it out by Wednesday, September 5th. Help a fellow mom out. Where do your kids go after school programs?

Over the next few weeks, the moms will be talking about Back to School. To see all Back to School posts, click here.



  1. Denise Sellers August 22, 2012 at 3:42 am

    Have you actually visited the afterschool program at Max’s school? Although you worked at one, not all school based or organization based programs are the same. The quality of the administration and staff can mean a huge difference in quality. And as someone who has been in the Afterschool field for more than 25 years years, I can assure you that program quality has improved dramatically in recent years as the field has grown and matured. Check them out, and give them a chance. There are many benefits … consistency of availability for you, familiarity of the location and the participation of friends for your son among them.

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    Amy August 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Such a hard decision! We were struggling with the same issue. My concern was with my daughter transitioning to 4 different groups in a single day – before school, her 1/2 day Kindergarten program, 1/2 day extended day program, and an afterschool program. Luckily a solution fell in our laps last week at my brother’s cook-out. A good friend of the family whose children are teens was looking to supplement her part-time work schedule. She’s going to come to our home before and after school 3 days a week. Hang in there – you’ll find someone. And remember, you can always switch if your first choice doesn’t work out.

  3. MediaMom August 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I agree with Denise — check out the one at your school. While school hasn’t started for us yet, I have heard rave reviews about the after school program that is run at our school and I have been very impressed with our two meetings with the guy who runs it — more impressed than I have been with the actual Kindergarten teachers.

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